Tisha B'Av and Hope for the Future

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As the Jewish world mourns the destruction of the Temple and a long list of other horrific events that have happened on this date to the Jewish people, it’s hard not to draw parallels between the lessons learned from Tisha B’Av and our current political climate.

In 1313 BCE, the Israelites sent 12 spies – one from each of the tribes – into the land of Israel to scout out what laid ahead. Despite finding rich and fertile land for planting and growing crops, 10 of the 12 spies convinced the Israelites not to enter the land because it was inhabited by “giants” – and the people believed them. Because of their own fear, their own lack of faith and inability to see the possibilities in the future, they were defeated even before they started.

From the time of the Second Temple, there is a midrash that tells of a man who wanted to throw a party for all of his friends. When his enemy is mistakenly invited, the man publicly humiliates him – and, in so doing, sets off a chain of events that leads to the Roman destruction of the Temple.

Fear. Baseless hatred. Humiliation. All cloud our judgment and block our ability to move forward as a Jewish people. It was true then and it continues to be true today.

In Cleveland, we know the importance of bringing people together. Every day across our diverse community – from the secular to the most observant and everyone in between – we are working together in substantive and meaningful ways to ensure our community continues to move forward.

It’s one of the many reasons Cleveland is such a strong Jewish community. By building trusting relationships, we are able to counter the negative forces that shape the story of Tisha B’Av and fuel strife today.

These are hard times. Israel is going through a very challenging time. In this context, we want to be clear that our love for and commitment to the state of Israel, Israeli people and Jews everywhere is unbreakable. There is still much work to be done to build modern-day Israel, and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland renews and affirms its commitment to this work.

We will continue to support the organizations and individuals who are helping to unite Israelis and to build the institutions of civil society that will allow the diverse populations of Israel and global Jewish people to live and work together and to resolve our differences respectfully. We are also exploring new ways of partnering and building bridges within different parts of Israeli society. We look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.

We have a shared history and a shared destiny. Together, we are part of a brit – a sacred covenant that existed before us and will continue long after we are gone.

When addressing the United States Congress last week, Israel’s President Herzog said, “The Israeli national anthem, Hatikva, is a song of hope. The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote that in Judaism, hope is an active virtue, which requires a great deal of courage. Hope is the belief that together we can make the world better, that we can overcome any setbacks, and heal the fractures in our world. Israel’s first 75 years were rooted in an ancient dream. Let us base our next 75 years on hope. Our shared hope, that we can heal our fractured world, as the closest allies and friends.”

We can do our part in fulfilling that hope by insisting on engaging in respectful dialogue and focusing on a shared commitment to the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Daniel N. Zelman
Board Chair

Erika B. Rudin-Luria

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